Whan a plant, animal, or insect dies,
that plant, animal, or insect is broken into tiny pieces and those
pieces become part of the soil. This is called decomposition.
Bacteria, fungi, and some worms are what break down dead plants,
animals, and insects. The bacteria, fungi, and worms are called
decomposers. Decomposers need to eat some of the dead things
so they can live and grow.
The tiny pieces left over after decomposers eat become part of
the soil. Living plants take what they need from these pieces
so they can grow. The parts of these pieces that living plants
take to grow are called nutrients.
So, living plants make their own food, but they also need to get
nutrients from the soil. Decomposers help provide these nutrients.
Common decomposers in a schoolyard ecosystem are:
Play the animation to see a dead tree decompose.